Hotel Bondi Video Review
When I moved to Sydney just on 20 years ago, like any newcomer or tourist, I was drawn to Bondi Beach. That first peek of the teal-hued ocean, as you come over the rise on Bondi Road, filled me with awe and anticipation. Bondi Beach is an icon, and is only surpassed by the Opera House, and Harbour Bridge as destinations to tick off the bucket list for visitors to our shores. Food ,on the other hand, didn’t scale the same heights until the last decade, with hatted restaurants that now bookend Bondi Beach. Over the past 5 years especially, I have noticed a real step up in quality with seriously good coffee and breakfast fare popping up. Hotel Bondi has joined the party (so to speak) with a makeover in both its interior and menu. The refurbishment was completed in December 2015, with a repaint, new timber flooring, and fresh new decor. The space has a Cape Cod feel with a relaxed beachy ambience. White clothed shades provide soft light over the high set tables and tall chairs, and you can also opt to take in the sea breeze with seating outside. There is a more intimate section that caters to patrons who yearn for a more formal sit-down bistro experience.
While waiting on our feast, we set the bar staff to work with a trio of cocktails. We are presented with an aperol spritz, which is said to be a favourite of patrons. A bright orange aperitif with a shot of aperol, prosecco, topped with soda water, and garnished with a slice of orange. It’s equal parts sweet, bitter and fizzy. A tropical delight, with an infusion of alcohol and citrus flavours, that is a happy way to kick off the bistro experience at Hotel Bondi.
Hotel Bondi’s menu is all about accessibility. By that, I mean you won’t have to commission a translator to make sense of the menu, nor will you have to go on bread and water for a week after your dining experience. It’s a menu brimming with many of Sydney’s favourites, just with a little more finesse and use of quality produce. First off is the salt and pepper calamari with chilli aioli. The calamari is a vibrant orange, with a crispy batter, that zings with a little heat, and isn’t overdone with salt. Each calamari is perfectly cooked with just the slightest bit of chew. Calamari done to perfection across from the beach, just about the best way to kick off a meal.
Wherever we go, thoughts of coffee are never far away, and at Hotel Bondi, there’s an espresso martini to give us that caffeine kick. The martini is a delightful mix of Ketel One vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso. There is a nice balance of espresso against the vodka. Yes, there’s an alcoholic kick, but it won’t have you scrunching up your face. It’s light and fresh, and a refined cocktail.
From the Asian influence of the calamari, we zoom over to Italy for cute little arancini. Arancini can be stodgy and chalky but Hotel Bondi serves balls of mozzarella and tomato with a perfect balance of cheese and tangy tomato. They are light and fluffy, and bite sized to quickly demolish, which we expertly did!
As a chilly south-easterly blows through the eastern suburbs, we find a spot near a window to bask in the radiating rays, and take in a chicken soup. Hotel Bondi’s x-factor is the inclusion of an oyster broth. Fresh out of the pot, with a beautiful aroma, is a soup filled with tender slivers of chicken, diced carrots, celery, translucent onions, and mushrooms. It’s a soup packed with ingredients and bags of flavour. Surprisingly, there’s a peppery kick that hits the back of your palate. I love the inclusion of briny, yet rich flavours of the oyster broth. From crispy starters, the soup is a perfect segue way to the mains.
A Bondi summer raspberry cooler arrives to quell the heat of the soup. It’s a cocktail comprised of Smirnoff No21, lime juice, raspberry puree, ginger beer and lemon. It’s a drink that that is not overly sweet, with a nice blend of tartness from the raspberries, and freshness from the lime and lemon. I can just imagine coming in after a hot day at the beach and relaxing with this cooler. A nice tall glass means the relief the zesty drink provides is not over before it starts.
A pan-fried Tassie salmon fillet kicks off mains. With a beautiful crispy caramel skin, and delicate pink flesh, the salmon sits on a cauliflower cream bed with watercress, asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, and radish. I have to show restraint to get at the fish, it just looks so inviting! The flesh just flakes apart, suggesting a perfectly cooked fillet Flavours of the sea with its characteristic richness, combined with the salty crunch of the skin, is divine. Cauliflower cream is a great partner, as it absorbs the oils of the fish. Freshness from the asparagus, and the acidity from the tomatoes, cleanses the palate. It’s a classically well thought out dish, where the protein really is king!
Prawn linguine is a staple on many a menu across Sydney, yet Hotel Bondi delivers a linguine which ticks all the boxes. It’s all about the chunky, plump prawns. While at some establishments you may have to savour the few measly prawns in your bowl, don’t worry about quantity here, with healthy servings of the crustacean. The pasta is al dente, with just the perfect amount of bite, and a fully flavoured sauce which coats each strand. Each prawn is expertly cooked with a sweet flavour and the sauce never overpowers the dish. While we’re served a huge spread of food, I ensure that we polish every bit of pasta, because it’s just that delicious!
Wagyu and burger are words that evoke salivating thoughts and spontaneous culinary adventures! Hotel Bondi delivers a grand looking Wagyu burger with chunky fries. There’s beef patties and then there’s Wagyu patties. The bistro cooks their Wagyu patty medium, which just falls apart in your mouth. The fat of the Wagyu melts into the meat and keeps the patty juicy, adding a lip-smacking richness of flavour. Bacon gives another meaty layer of goodness, and if pickles are your thing, it sits atop the burger. Lettuce and tomato are classics that provide freshness and sweet tang to a huge burger. Perfectly crispy fries completes a burger that would be hard to beat on the strip!
OK, educate me people. Cyprus’ best export has to be Halloumi cheese, doesn’t it? I love it for the fact that with it’s high melting point, it’s an ideal cheese for grilling or pan frying. At Hotel Bondi, it’s presented as a salad of chargrilled Halloumi with rocket, watercress, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, Spanish onion, and a lemon dressing. There are generous chunks of golden Halloumi, with a caramelised outer, and that oh-so-unique squeak when you bite into a perfectly cooked slice. I enjoy the peppery flavour of the rocket, and the texture and nutty flavours from the pine nuts. Herby flavours from oregano and watercress, combined with a tangy lemon dressing, delivers my kind of salad. Is my Halloumi bias that obvious?!
Hotel Bondi provided my first experience of tasting Bulgarian feta, in the pumpkin, beetroot, and quinoa salad. As with every dish on the menu, there’s no skimping on the ingredients, with walnuts, baby cos, and a wholegrain mustard dressing. Slices of beetroot provide a sweet, yet earthy. flavour and the Bulgarian feta providing a creamy, and slightly salty, flavour. The cheese is not as pungent or strong as other fetas, and doesn’t overpower with its flavour. Quinoa is a pearly protein that adds volume and texture. Rounding out the salad are vibrant orange slices of pumpkin, which are tender and sweet, and partner so well with the feta.
With our tummies bulging a little, we depart totally satisfied. Hotel Bondi has always commanded prime position at Bondi Beach, yet now with a refresh of both the menu and interior, the venue has hurtled into the 21st century, and is the perfect space by the beach to chill out. While we sampled just a few dishes, there is a deep menu, and an equally long drinks list, which means you can keep coming back, over and over again.
*Coco and Vine dined as guests of Hotel Bondi.